The almost entirely damaged caption in the top-right corner says: Pārśva… – ‘Pārśva’s …’.

The biggest figure is Pārśvanātha or Lord Pārśva, in the lotus position in the centre of a gold circle made of three concentric walls. There are three doorways, one to each of the three walls, in the south, east and west. Above Pārśva‘s head is a triple parasol, which shows his kingly status. In the corners of the illustrated panel are pairs of animals around stepped shapes, which may represent water ponds.

This picture shows that Pārśva has reached omnisciencekevala-jñāna – following 86 and a half days of suffering extreme physical trials.

The abstract concept of achieving omniscience is usually represented by illustrations of the samavasaraṇa. This word, which means ‘universal gathering’, refers both to an architectural structure and to the meeting itself. The circular shape, seen here, is more frequently found than other shapes. Here, the structure is three walls thick. There are entrances in each of the four cardinal directions. The Jina sits at the centre, where his speech can be heard in all directions by all beings who carefully and respectfully listen to him. He can deliver his teaching only after reaching omniscience. This is why this notion is represented by the samavasaraṇa.

In depictions of the universal gathering, it is common to show animals that are normally enemies peacefully listening in pairs to the Jina‘s teaching. This atmosphere of peace is demonstrated in the bottom-left corner by the elephant and an animal like a cross between a lion and a tiger. This is how the lion is depicted in Indian painting tradition. In the other corners, pairs of animals that are hard to identify contribute to the peaceful mood.

Other visual elements

The bottom of the right margin contains the number 78. This is the folio number, in a square with two blue lines as an ornamental motif.

The original paper is slightly damaged. But, as with many Kalpa-sūtra manuscripts, there is a clear intention to make the manuscript a valuable and remarkable object in itself. This aim is signalled by the:

  • coloured background for the text
  • gold ink instead of the standard black ink
  • decorated border with blue floral motifs
  • three diamonds filled with gold ink, with arrow-like blue lines and surrounding blue border as ornamental motifs.

The three diamonds along the central horizontal plane are symbolic reminders of the way in which manuscripts were bound when they were on palm leaf. Strings through holes in the paper were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The diamonds are in the places where the holes would once have been.